Tag Archives: ted v. mikels

The Corpse Grinders

The Corpse Grinders

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Today’s movie is a little story that answers the age-old mystery of what cat food is made of: “The Corpse Grinders.”

“The Corpse Grinders” was directed, produced, edited, scored, and co-written by Ted V. Mikels, a b-movie legend who also created “Girl In Gold Boots,” “The Astro-Zombies,” “The Black Klansman,” and “The Doll Squad.” The other credited writers were Arch Hall Sr., best known for “Eegah,” and Joseph Cranston (“The Crawling Hand”).

corpsegrinders1The effects for “The Corpse Grinders” were provided by Sherri Vernon (“Blood Orgy of the She-Devils”) and Gary Heacock (“The Astro-Zombies”).

The executive producer on the film was Peter James, who was also behind “Head in the Clouds,” “The Merchant of Venice” starring Al Pacino, and a 2005 adaptation of “Beowulf & Grendel.”

The cast of “The Corpse Grinders” is made up mostly of inexperienced exploitation actors, like Sean Kenney (“Star Trek,” “The Toy Box”), Sanford Mitchell (“The Scavengers”), Warren Ball (“The Harem Bunch”), Ann Noble (“Sins of Rachel”), Vincent Barbi (“Dolemite,” “The Astro-Zombies,” “The Blob”), and Drucilla Hoy (“Sinner’s Blood”).

corpsegrinders4The story of “The Corpse Grinders” centers on a cat food company that is grinding up human corpses to make their product. The result is, of course, that domestic cats begin going wild and attacking their owners.

“The Corpse Grinders” spawned two sequels many years after the fact: “The Corpse Grinders 2” in 2000, and “The Corpse Grinders 3” in 2012.

In 2013, the Las Vegas Review Journal did a spotlight feature on Ted V. Mikels that covers many of his eccentric life experiences, as well as how the digital revolution affected his film making. Apparently, he at one point lived in a castle with a veritable harem, has a distinctive mustache, and is generally a bit of a creepy oddball. However, he also provided some interesting insights into his film-making process, particularly why he almost always worked with amateurs, and how that rounded him as a director:

“I found that the people I could use, the only ones I could afford, were people who didn’t have the type of experience that I required. So I had to put some tutoring into them to get what I wanted.”

The cat food company featured in “The Corpse Grinders” is called Lotus Cat Food Company. As luck would have it, there is now an actual pet food company that uses the name Lotus: Lotus Pet Foods. Much like the recent popularity of “Soylent,” based on the infamous product from “Soylent Green,” perhaps using the name “Lotus” has given the company a slight boost.

corpsegrinders5A 2008 documentary was made about the long career of Ted V. Mikels, called, appropriately, “The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels.” The movie was made by documentary maker Kevin Sean Michaels, who also created a feature about the infamous horror host and “Plan 9 From Outer Space” star Vampira.

The infamous corpse grinding machine, according to Ted V. Mikels, was constructed out of plywood and a series of bicycle parts, contradicting the myth that it was made precariously of cardboard.

corpsegrindersJustifiably, the reception to “The Corpse Grinders” wasn’t exactly glowing. It currently has an IMDb rating of 3.4, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 17% (critic) and 28% (audience). That said, the outlandish plot has cemented the film as a cult classic of the good-bad quasi-genre.

The budget for “The Corpse Grinders” was reportedly less than $50,000, which is astoundingly low even for low-budget flicks.

“The Corpse Grinders” obviously suffers from being as cheap as it is: the actors aren’t good, the effects are iffy, and, most notable of all, the sound quality is just awful. However, considering all of this, the film really isn’t all that bad. The biggest issue is probably how slow it is, as the plot plods around a bit too long.

corpsegrinders3If there is anything to say positive about “The Corpse Grinders,” it is that it is imaginative. The film came out the same year as “Willard,” which popularized the use of otherwise innocuous creatures as the subjects of monster movies, which led to films like “Night of the Lepus” and “Frogs.” However, “The Corpse Grinders” does a better job of explaining why the cats are attacking, something that most of the others gloss over. “The Corpse Grinders” also makes some interesting use of colored lighting during certain scenes, which creates a bizarre ambiance for the corpse grinding room.

Ted V. Mikels is, of course, an exploitation director. As you would expect from the genre, there’s a lot of inexplicable lack of clothing throughout the film, but it could certainly have been more flagrant. From what I have seen of Ted V. Mikels, “The Corpse Grinders” is actually pretty low-key among his films.

Overall, “The Corpse Grinders” is an imaginative little cheap flick with an interesting concept, but it suffers immensely from having an extremely low budget and being paced awfully. The experience of sitting through it is unfortunately pretty boring, and the highlights are rare and fleeting. That said, a supercut of them is probably worth checking out.

IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 3

IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 1
-SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2
-Going Overboard
-Manos: The Hands of Fate
-Birdemic: Shock and Terror

IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 2
-Space Mutiny
-Turks in Space
-Crossover
-Pledge This!

Pod People


Most MST3K fans are likely familiar with the movie “Pod People”, a poorly constructed and confused mess of an ET ripoff film that was famously featured on the show.

I almost feel like this movie could have been decent. If someone has taken a keener eye to the script and done some better camera work, this might have been a perfectly mediocre movie. As it stands, it is an incredibly bad, confused mess of a film. There are some laughs to be had at the poor special effects and horrible acting, but in general the writing is too unfocused to keep your attention throughout the movie. The famously bad recording studio scene is about the only part of this movie worth watching, save for the poor effects during little Trumpy’s tirades. The plot just takes too long to get moving, and there are too many threads introduced too early in the movie. If you can stay awake through the first half-hour though, you are golden for making it through the rest of this mind-numbing movie.

About the only thing I can credit to this movie is that it was easy for the MST3K crew to tear to shreds. Their riff on this one is one of the better episodes of the show without a doubt, and is the only way I could possibly recommend watching this movie. Otherwise, it is just an incredibly boring time killer.

Girl in Gold Boots

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I have been ruminating on this one for a while. I initially procrastinated writing out my review on this so that I could read up more on the fascinating man behind this film, Ted V. Mikels. There is certainly a lot of interesting reading about his career and personality, and he has a lengthy filmography of crap to sift through.

Now, after sitting on this movie for a while, I think I actually like it.

This isn’t as good of a bad movie as “Manos” or “Plan 9”, but it really is an enjoyable watch if you are hunting for a B-movie. The acting is all way overdone, which is exactly what you want to see in a film like this. The same goes for the writing and dialogue, it all just hits the spot for what this movie is. The editing mistakes are actually pretty entertaining as opposed to jarring, which is ultimately a boon to the entertainment value of the film.

Last but not least, I think I have actually come to like the music in this movie. The whole film relies on the intermittent musical numbers, which alternate between Critter’s sappy acoustic bits and the backing band’s rock(?) numbers. The main theme is actually pretty catchy, and the others can actually grow on you if you aren’t careful. Kind of like “Hear the Engines Roll Now” in Pod People, they are sort of endearingly terrible. Honestly, I think that sums up the whole film: Endearingly Terrible.

House of the Dead

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To start off with, the movie isn’t unwatchable. It is bad in just about every way, but it isn’t particularly difficult to sit through. That is about the only thing positive to say about it.

The practical effects in this movie are somehow not over the top enough, believe it or not. There are times when zombies are briefly on screen when I’d swear they didn’t have any make up on the extra at all. The ones that they do put effort into came out way too cartoony if you ask me, and i just didn’t buy them. I actually think in this aspect Boll was a little too loyal to the games, whose zombies are a bit too sci fi and not very horror.

Speaking of loyalty to source material, this is a mighty inconsistent movie. Boll goes so far as to splice in direct shots from the game for transitions, but can’t be bothered to actually set the movie in a house. I actually appreciate that he tried to give the movie a video game feel with the death screens, but he didn’t do those consistently with every character. Even the few things he does decently wind up being used ad nauseam or inconsistently applied, which dulls down the whole movie. There were times I would groan at yet another bullet shot, and be let down when I anticipated a death screen.

The special effects are typical Uwe Boll schlock. A ridiculous amount of slow motion is used, along with inexplicable fireballs and CGI gunshots. That’s basically a trade mark of his movies at this point.

The acting is actually not particularly bad for low-level horror movie, with the exception of “Captain Kirk”, who I swear starts drifting into a Russian accent at one point. In general, these people had to do what they could with the script, which wasn’t doing them any favors.

Speaking of the script, the writing is just miserable here. The dialogue is all pretty forgettable, but the story really disappoints. We are treated to the legend of the island well past the halfway point, and the truth behind the island is all crammed into the last few minutes. At that point, why even bother? Nothing bothered me about this quite as much as the botched attempt at a “The Reanimator” ending. For all I can say about “The Reanimator”, the last scene / shot of that movie is awesome. This movie tries to do the same thing, but decides to cut that crucial shot, instead just telling us what happened over the course of the helicopter ride home via voice over narration. There are so many better ways to end the last couple of minutes of this movie that it is actually infuriating to watch this happen. You don’t even have to tweak the outcome or story in any way, and you could dramatically improve the effect of this ending. Did Boll not put any basic thought into his finale at all? “Show don’t tell” ring a bell, dude? Surely he’s seen “The Reanimator”, or he wouldn’t be blatantly ripping it off here. Maybe he just needs to take better notes the next time he makes a movie.

Speaking of blatantly ripping off other movies, there is a baffling and unnecessary sequence that directly rips off “Fellowship of the Ring”. Remember when Frodo famously hides behind the log when being chased down by the Nazgul? It is a really fantastic sequence that is impressively creepy and builds a lot of tension. Well, this movie decided to do that exact same shot, but without any of the ambiance or tense buildup that made the original sequence so excellent. It is painfully obvious that the scene was taken from LOTR today, so I can’t imagine how blatant it looked for people watching this in 2003. Just a really lazy move by Boll to throw that in, especially since it contributes nothing to the movie. The character who is hiding is caught and killed literally seconds after the shot concludes.

“Fellowship of the Rings” scene

“House of the Dead” scene (1:28-2:15)

There are so many more things to complain about in this movie, but I don’t really want to write a novel on how much Uwe Boll sucks. This movie has rocketed from #25 to #16 since I froze the IMDb bottom 100 for this project, which doesn’t surprise me. This movie has the internet’s nerd rage and Uwe Boll’s unpopularity as both a filmmaker / human being working against it, which is obviously going to show up on a democratic ranking. For what it is worth, the movie is watchable. It is worse than a typical Hollywood box office bomb, but not nearly as bad as the stuff you would find in MST3K. It probably belongs on an objective list of the worst somewhere, but this is honestly mostly a victim of the democratic nature of the Bottom 100. I could actually recommend this one to people who enjoy crappy horror movies. There isn’t much in the way of laughs to get out of it, but it is an interesting one to dissect in order to see how it ticks.

Pumaman

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I watched this movie twice, just to make sure I caught everything.

This is a very bad movie. A very bad, amazing movie.

The trailer alone lays out most of what you need to know. The attempted flying effect in this movie is just pathetic, to the point of being absolutely hilarious. It is something that you need to see to believe. Aside from that, there are a number of other really unimpressive attempts at special effects, that mostly come down to shaking the camera. It does not come out well.

The acting is unsurprisingly sub-par, but Donald Pleasence does ham it up a bit. There are a number of moments where you can tell that he knows how bad this movie is going to be, but he still puts a little bit of effort into it. It has to be hard to effectively act like a sinister villain when you are having to peek out from behind a giant ridiculous mask prop the whole movie. I’m amazed he put any effort at all into this movie, especially since he apparently listed it as the worst movie he was ever involved in.

The story makes very little sense. I’m still not clear on why the main character is a “puma” man, given his powers involve teleportation, flying, and faking suicide. Are those typical puma behaviors that I wasn’t aware of? I also particularly like how his powers are granted from aliens in a way that is directly hereditary(?). I’m going to try not to put too much thought into that, but I will note that the alien spaceships look like the Monarch’s Cocoon from “The Venture Bros.”, or alternatively like leftover Christmas ornaments. Clearly a lot of effort was put into this film.

This movie has been moving up the Bottom 100 with all of the grace and stealth of an actual Puma. It popped into the top 20 just recently, and is sitting at #19 currently. I am actually perfectly happy with that placement at this point, because this movie is a fantastic brew of various incompetencies that churns out a genuinely entertaining product. It is absolutely terrible in every technical aspect I can think of. It is a hilarious experience to watch it confusedly stumble its way through the run time. This is one that I may honestly go back and watch again just for the fun of it.